A country that has already produced a FIFA World Cup™ winner will make its FIFA World Cup debut when the Oceanian Zone qualifying campaign begins on Saturday.
New Caledonia have only been FIFA members for the last three years, six years after France 1998 when their most famous footballing son Christian Karembeu helped France to win the FIFA World Cup on home soil.
The match against Tahiti in Apia, Samoa, at the start of the long campaign to determine the 32 finalists for the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, marks the country's first foray in a qualifying event.
Since affiliation to FIFA, the country has played just two official games, against Vanuatu with one win and one defeat in the two games. They are currently ranked 178 th in the FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking.
There are no new Karembeu's in a home-based selection, coached by Didier Chambaron, who as a player competed in France's fourth division. The only overseas based players in the squad come from clubs in Tahiti - Jose Hmae and Ismael Kabeu
"We have a side we have constructed with a strong defence and we hope we can build on that," says Chambaron.
New Caledonia are no slouches at the South Pacific Games. They have previously won four gold medals and at the last tournament in Fiji four years ago they lost 2-0 in the final to the hosts.